During this last Christmas holiday, I was given the most imponderable joy of reading 9 books! Yes! It was marvelous. Some were on my “Need to Read ASAP” list, while others I stumbled upon at the library. One of the books I had heard a lot about and was interested in reading was Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races.
The opening line of the book reads, “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”
This book is the story of Puck Connelly, a young orphan girl living with her two brothers and her beloved horse on a broken down farm in on the fictional island of Thisby (somewhere likely near Ireland). It is also the story of Sean Kendrick, a young horse trainer and four time champion of the annual Scorpio Races. Thisby is special. It is the home of the legendary Eich Uisce: the mythical, legendary, flesh eating Celtic water horse. After reading this book I actually did some research on this mythical creature and it’s actually quite fascinating. The Eich Uisce falls somewhat under the same category as the Loch Ness Monster. Sailors told tales of this dangerous water horse that would rip a fisherman from his boat and devour him beneath the water.
Anyways, Puck’s family is in danger of losing everything they own and Puck, in an effort to keep her family together, decides this year she must ride in the races. However, she has no desire to ride one of the wild, unpredictable, savage water horses that killed her parents. Instead she faces threat of town purist and water horse alike, when she chooses to ride her beloved natural horse, Dove, in the races. Puck finds an unlikely ally in the lonesome, but extremely wise and talented Sean Kendrick. Sean has won the races four times on the water horse stallion, Corr (owned by Thisby’s top stable owner). The two start training together, but even as they grow closer enemies are appearing at all sides threatening both their chances of not only a win, but more importantly of their survival.
I really enjoyed this book. Classified more in the range of young adult fiction I was drawn in by the characters and world Stiefvater created. Being a horse woman myself, I found the descriptions of everything from the horses’ movements to riding and training techniques so easy to imagine and activate my own horse knowledge. I was drawn into Thisby and grew to love this little ‘horse island’. I can imagine, however, someone less familiar with horses and horseback riding may be confused by the experienced terminology and descriptions.
My only complaint was I wanted the race to be longer! The entire book builds up to this race that in real life would be started and over in no more than a few minutes. Yet, perhaps that is what makes it all so gripping… all this training, the dedication, risk, the probability of death… and only a few minutes to make it worth it.
“I don’t trust the ocean, either; it would kill me as soon as not. It doesn’t mean I’m afraid of it.”
What stuck with me the most about this book is the idea of taking a risk. Throwing everything you think you want or need out the window and risking it all to get something so much more. The races in and of themselves are a risk. People lose their lives every year under the hooves or in the teeth of the beasts they trusted to carry them over the finish line. Puck risks everything, her beloved horse and her own life, in order to save her family. Sean in turn, is inspired by Puck because of this. Sean, you would think, being a 4 time race champion, would have nothing left to risk…. Yet it is not so. Sean makes a daring choice to risk the one thing he treasures most in life in the hopes of saving it. Both characters are so brave throughout the story. What gets me the most is that their risks, most importantly, the risks that include their lives, mean so much more because they have an undeniable cause. Their purpose, their hope, the thing they are fighting for is worth more to them than their lives or selfish desires.
As a Christian, I want to live like that. I want to live in a way where my faith is worth any risk. I want to live a life where my love and passion for Jesus is so consuming I will risk it all, dare anything in order to bring glory to God’s kingdom. In the flesh, I am fearful and overcome easily. However, with Christ as my hope… with Christ as my great purpose… I am willing to risk anything for him.
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.